On this day in comedy on August 14, 1956 Actress, Jacqueline Yvonne “Jackée” Harry was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The first African-American winner of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, Harry was an American History teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School before beginning her career on New York stages. She’d studied acting at the high School of the Performing Arts and made her Broadway debut in A Broadway Musical. In 1994 she starred as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.
Jackee successfully juggled a stage career with her one on television. She made her small screen bow as a soap opera actress in Another World. From 1985-1989 she played the role of Sandra Clark in the Marla Gibbs sitcom 227. That job was fraught with controversy when it was discovered Jackee and Marla Gibbs were feuding over who was the show’s lead character. That beef was later squashed and the two have worked together since and remained harmonious. NBC, the network broadcasting 227, felt Harry’s sassy comedy persona deserved a wider audience and shot a pilot called Jackee. It was never picked up and was shown as an episode on 227. Other TV gigs included a short lived run on The Royal family on CBS following the sudden death of star, red Foxx; Sister, Sister (1994-1999); Byron Allen’s The First Family, Disney’s Girl Meets World and numerous guest starring appearances.
Harry was also no stranger to films. She co-starred with Oprah Winfrey in The Women of Brewster’s Place in 1989, 1992’s Ladybugs You Got Served in 2004v and dozens of other movies; theatrical releases or straight to DVD. She did voice-overs for animated series like, American Dad and been on reality shows such as Celebrity Ghost Stories. In any case Jackee Harry worked it.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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